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A Word About Copyright

This website compiles thousands of verbatim excerpts from published works. No claim of originality or authorship by the compiler is asserted. Each excerpt is cited to the original work and page.

The compiler gratefully acknowledges receipt of express permission, from some copyright holders, to publish their materials for free, non-commercial use. The basis for inclusion in this website for each source is indicated in the "Author" pages.  Where express permission has not been granted and copyright has not expired, the compiler takes the following positions regarding (1) American copyright law (on advice of legal counsel specializing in intellectual property law), and (2) Halakhah (Jewish law) (on advice of halakhic specialists):

American Law

Publication of the excerpts in this website in the manner presented and for the purposes stated is permitted under the “Fair Use” doctrine of U.S. copyright law (17 United States Code). Generally speaking, the “Fair Use” doctrine involves a balancing of four non-exclusive tests, including:

— The purpose and character of the use
— The nature of the copyrighted work
— The amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
— The effect of the use upon the potential market

The compiler’s position is that this website:

— is exclusively for an educational, non-commercial purpose
— is “transformative” in facilitating the search, study, and comparison of diverse ethical commentaries by Torah verse and secondary sources
— uses (in almost all cases) only a small portion of the original work; and
— has little or no effect upon the remaining potential market for further income to the author and/or publisher*

* Indeed, it is the compiler's hope that publication of excerpts will bring additional/renewed attention to the authors' scholarship and spur additional purchases of the excepted source. Links to publisher websites (where located) or, where none was found, to sample reseller websites are included in the "Authors" page.

Further, courts evaluating content aggregation of literary works have found fair use. See Authors Guild Inc. v. HathiTrust, 902 F. Supp. 2d 445, 104 U.S.P.Q.2d 1659 (S.D. N.Y. 2012), aff'd in part, vacated in part, 755 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2014), and the "Google Books" case, Authors Guild Inc. v. Google, Inc., 954 F. Supp. 2d 282, (S.D. N.Y. 2013), judgment aff'd, 804 F.3d 202 (2d Cir. 2015).  These cases held that the mass copying of millions of complete books to create a searchable “full text” database was fair because the copying was transformative, neither the creative nature of the books nor the copying of complete books was dispositive, the database only permitted short excerpts of the original books to be displayed in response to searches, and there was no harm to the market for the original books since users of the database could not view a copy of a complete book. 

Many of the excerpts contained in this website are immediately accessible -- as part of far more extensive excerpts -- by searching the Google Books website, (books.google.com). 

Jewish Law (Halacha) and Ethics

Publication of the excerpts in this website in the manner presented and for the purposes stated is permitted pursuant to principles discussed in the following excerpts accessible in this website: Leviticus 19:11 steal PLYN 241-6 and Deuteronomy 19:14 landmarks AMJV 113.

In Summary

1. One may assume that the owner of property would consent to its use to fulfill a mitzvah (here, the dissemination of Torah knowledge). Mishnah Brurah 14:13.

2. Jewish law follows secular law (“dinah malchut dinah”) (here, American copyright law) where the latter does not conflict with Jewish law. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 55:11, Choshen Mishpat 369:6; Rema, Yoreh De’ah 165:1 Chosen Mishpat 207:115, 236:9.

3. Under the principle of “accepted practice law,” Jewish law considers agreements to be binding upon those who enter into them – including authors' and publishers' implied agreement/consent to be bound by copyright law governing the publication of their material and its “Fair Use” by others. (Rema,Choshen Mishpat 37:22).

Adar 5780   

        I have examined the website compiled by Rabbi Dr. Arthur Levine and can affirm that it is in full compliance with halachic and ethical norms and American law, including its reliance on Fair Use in its utilization of copyrighted works. I can also state that the site is a beautiful compilation of thousands of Torah sources dealing with many aspects of Jewish ethics, issues that are crucially important to Klal Yisreal and that are sadly ignored, sometimes even by very devout Jews. All of us owe a great debt of gratitude to Rabbi Levine for what is obviously a great labor of love. May his efforts raise our ethical consciousness and sensitivity. May it result in the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy ,"Tzion will be redeemed through justice and her captives through charity ." (Isaiah 1:27). 

                                                                                                                             With Deep Admiration,

                                                                                                                             Yitzchak A. Breitowitz 

                                                                                                                             Rav, Kehillat Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem

[Rabbi Dr. Breitowitz received his Rabbinical Ordination from the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in 1976; B.S. with honors from Johns Hopkins University; J.D (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School in 1979; and a Doctorate in Talmudic Law from Ner Israel in 1992.  He served as law clerk for the Honorable Susan Getzendanner of the U.S. District Court, and was a tenured professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law, where he specialized in commercial law.  He was also the Rabbi of Woodside Synagogue Ahavat Torah in Silver Spring, MD for 22 years . Breitowitz has published widely on Jewish law and ethics. Rabbi Breitowitz made aliya in 2010 and since then ,has been serving as Rav of Kehillat Ohr Somayach and Senior Lecturer in Yeshivat Ohr Somayach. He and his wife Sally live in Jerusalem.]

***

Nevertheless, each user should consider for him/herself, possibly including consultation with knowledgeable intellectual property legal counsel and rabbinic posekim, whether the “Fair Use” doctrine and halachah is applicable to his/her intended use.

Rabbi Arthur J. Levine, Ph.D., J.D.

April, 2020

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